A survival guide for my fellow wedding season widows
Being the husband of a wedding photographer can be a bit crap at times.
It’s like being the Robin to a very busy, very glamorous Batman. And while I love my Batman with all my heart, I’m not just married to her. I’m married to ‘weddings’.
For wedding photographers, it’s not just a job, it’s an all-consuming vocation. And as partners, this can make us feel a little pushed aside by this mammoth thing that dominates both our lives.
The main piece of advice I can offer other wedding photography partners is to remember that you aren’t second place. You’re a decisive gold medal. Just with a very loud, very demanding silver medalist hogging the spotlight.
All the other advice that follows should be taken with a pinch of salt, since I’ve only been married to one wedding photographer. And as far as I know, mine might be a complete nutjob. But I hope this either helps you navigate through unfamiliar territory, or find solace in the fact that you’re not the only one going through it all.
Learn to appreciate how hard they work
As an outsider, you think a few thousand pounds ‘for a day’s work’ is extortion.
When my wife first started out and she told me how much she was charging, I scoffed at her brazen disregard for fair commerce. I couldn’t believe she had the unmitigated gall to fleece these poor young couples for such huge sums. And when she’d say with wide eyes, “I’ve got 50 weddings next year. It’s going to be intense”, I’d chuckle mirthlessly to myself, dreaming big dreams of only working one day a week.
But my God, do they work hard?!
I now watch in daily wonder as she trudges through an avalanche of tasks. Every ‘day off’ is spent editing, on social media, on client calls, uploading galleries, answering emails and enquiries, putting together welcome packs, going to the post office, organising receipts…I used to work incredibly hard at my old ‘proper’ job, and she still worked harder than me. Constant pressure. No respite. Zero down time.
And when my long day is done, and I sink gratefully into the sofa, she’ll disappear into her office to carry on editing. In the early hours of the morning, she’ll finally climb into bed muttering, “finished the gallery”, or “previews are done”, only to wake up the next day with a million more things still to do.
So if you’re an outsider wondering how they have the unmitigated gall to charge such huge sums, trust me when I say, they really bloody earn it.
And if you’re a budding wedding photography widow finding your way, understand that they’re not just working on wedding days. They are always working. So make the tea, tidy up when you can, and do your best to emotionally support the hardest working person in your house.
Prepare to get roped in
Being a wedding photographer is a varied job, to say the least. As with anyone running their own business, the tasks that in a normal company would fall to a range of people, all fall on this one person’s shoulders. They’re accounting, social media, copywriter, blogger, editor, culler, the mail room, the tea lady, the CEO and the receptionist. And so as a husband of a wedding photographer, whatever task you specialise in gets lumbered on you.
So if you’re married to a wedding photographer, whatever job you do, prepare to get roped in. If you’re an accountant, you’ll be doing the accounts. In marketing? You’ll be doing the marketing. If you’re a puppeteer…OK, so I guess not all jobs.
As a blogger and copywriter, I am by default my wife’s in-house blogger and copywriter! I write her website copy, her blogs, her email templates, her sales copy, I edit her captions…basically, every syllable goes through me (except the wrong ones, sometimes she goes renegade). All of this unpaid, by the way. But I did get to go to Santorini, so swings and roundabouts.
*** By the way, if you’re a wedding photographer reading this and you’d love someone to write your blogs for you, I’d be excited to help. I’ll save you time and make you money. And I’m nice 🙂
Make your peace with photographs. Of everything, everywhere, always, until the end of time.
Above is one of many times I have been made to wait for a photo to be taken before I am allowed to eat my food.
The endless photographs.
When you go somewhere. When you stay in. When a meal arrives. When you’ve finished your meal. When you sit down. When you stand up. When you crouch. Everything must be documented with a photo. And then a second photo because ‘you look grumpy’ or you should ‘stop making that face’.
And when a syllable of complaint is uttered, the phrase “but this how I pay for things” rears its ugly head.
My advice? After many years of attrition, I have found the answer. Don’t fight it, you can’t win.
You can’t even break her camera because there’s another one on her bloody phone.
You do- and I’ll regret saying this- end up with decent family photos
I can just hear her now, reading this and saying “thank YOU. You see, you always whinge about my photos but they’re SO important.”
I do whinge. And I will one day love them. And they’re all of an astonishingly good quality.
I just wish there weren’t so many of them.
But I’ll admit, it is a nice perk, and it placates the grandparents.
Your photographs will never be good enough. Accept it.
She gives you her phone because “the one on yours is shit”. You line up the shot with careful precision, tap where you want to focus, and take what- by any other standards- is a pretty decent photo. You hand her the phone for inspection.
And it’s like having Gordon Ramsey come into your kitchen to critique your breakfast.
“Oh my God, look at this composition”. “Why did you get that van in the background?” “There’s grass in the way!”
In no other profession is it OK to barrate an amatuer for not meeting professional standards. But if I’m not Jose Villa, I’m “not trying hard enough”.
“What are you?”
I’m an idiot sandwich.
Enjoy seeing someone you love being good at something they love
Noone becomes a wedding photographer by accident. It’s not one of those, ‘I just kinda fell into it’ kind of jobs. It’s a stressful, competitive industry in which most people really struggle to succeed.
So if you’re married to one who’s doing well, they must really love it, and they must be good at it too. So take pleasure in being a part of that, even by proxy. Because it’s a blessing few people are lucky enough to have.
And as someone who worked a job they were- at best- ambivalent about for the best part of a decade, watching someone excel in a job they truly love is a joy.
My wife inspired me to follow my dreams and do something I really wanted to do, and for that I will be forever grateful.
Write off Wedding Season. You must run the house, feed the baby and mop up life’s mess.
You must keep the house standing and the baby alive! These are just a selection of the MANY Winnie pics I sent Becky while she was at weddings. Pretty much a single parent for 12 weeks.
And Rebecca would’ve given anything to be with us, but the Wedding Monster is greedy, insatiable and unrelenting. And whilst they do back to back weddings and work every hour in between, you must do all the things around the house that they would usually do. Whilst still doing all the stuff that you usually do. And also provide emotional support, and look after the baby, and bring them Coke Zeros and Galaxy. And take away the crumpled Coke Zero cans and Galaxy wrappers.
It sucks, I know, but it is what it is. But remember they are working their arse off, and the last thing they need is you moping about, making them feel guilty about it. So suck it up, be supportive, and ride it out until glorious November when you’ll have time to talk to each other again.
They might not say how grateful they are (in fact, they probably won’t), but they are grateful, and they can’t do it without you. And you love them, right? So stick with them, it’s not easy for either of you but together you’re invincible.
I’d love to hear any other pieces of advice from fellow wedding photographer partners. If anything it would be nice to know I’m not alone…
I’ll end this entry by saying what I always say. That this blog is my outlet for my own voice, and my own expression. But please don’t let my personality put you off, I don’t have to write like this! I specialise in writing SEO-optimised blogs in the voice of the person I’m writing for. I can help you gain traction on your website, sell a product or service, promote Associate links, refine website copy, or even just write friendly and professional email templates. Whatever you need, I’d love to get involved.